Etihad files UK lawsuit against Air Berlin administrators

Abu Dhabi airline seeks declarations of non-liability for damages claimed by the German company

FILE PHOTO: An Etihad plane stands parked at a gate at JFK International Airport in New York, U.S., March 21, 2017.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Etihad Airways filed for legal proceedings in the High Court in London against the administrators of troubled Air Berlin.

The legal action follows the lawsuit made against Etihad by Air Berlin’s administrators in December.

Etihad seeks declarations of non-liability for up to €2 billion (Dh8.34bn) of damages claimed by the administrators of Air Berlin in an earlier lawsuit filed in Germany, the UAE airline said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The insolvency administrator’s case has no basis, and we are confident that we will prevail wherever the case is determined,” a spokesman for Etihad said.

Etihad owned a 29 per cent stake in Air Berlin and had provided funding since becoming a shareholder in 2012. In April 2017, Etihad sent a letter of support to Air Berlin, which by then had fallen into financial difficulties, saying it would provide funding for the next 18 months.

Then in August that year, Air Berlin’s business continued to deteriorate and the airline filed for administration.


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Since Etihad’s initial investment in Air Berlin as a UK public company, the relationship has been formally governed by English law and has been subject to the jurisdiction of the English courts, the Etihad spokesman said. The High Court in London is therefore the “proper venue for this dispute”.

“Filing the case in Berlin is a breach of a jurisdiction agreement between Etihad and Air Berlin, under which the disputed matters are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts,” the statement said.

Earlier in 2018, the German government had provided Air Berlin with a €150 million bridge loan, and its assets have been divided up between German airline Lufthansa, UK company easyJet and former motor racing champion Niki Lauda.